With the weather so beautiful in the first week of my Easter break, I have been trying to cram as many hours in the garden as possible as I have lots of new projects this year and this is the ideal time to get them all started so they have the rest of the Spring and Summer to establish.
For the last 2 years, I have exhibited at Gardeners’ World Live at the NEC, but this year, I decided to have a rest from the show and spend the time in my own patch. The Easter holidays are usually a time when I am tearing about preparing materials and planting etc for my stand, so this year it has been wonderful to step back a little and actually invest some more time in my own garden.
If you follow my blog, you will know that in February, I opened up a part of the garden that I had not really used much before and this area is going to be my focus this year. I have decided to call the whole idea, ‘Project B&B’….. as I am very much developing this area with bees and butterflies in mind. Through a combination of focused planting and habitat creation, I hope to show how you can really make a difference in your own patch… even if you only have a small area to put aside for them. I know I am lucky enough to have quite a large area to develop, but over the coming months, I hope to share all that I do and inspire you to maybe try something on a smaller scale. When you zoom out on Google Earth and look at the network of gardens in the UK, it makes you realise that we are, in fact, in control of a huge potential nature reserve and if we all did a little bit, the overall effect would be massive!
Having my daughter home from university after nearly completing her first year of her Graphic Design degree has meant that I was able to get her to do some images for my logo….. I am really pleased with what she came up with…
I am hoping she will do some more species of butterfly over the coming months. I will be documenting the whole development in photos and videos and I have built a page on my website where you can see what is happening. I will be linking these images to more detailed blog posts as well. You can check that page out HERE
This week marked a big part of my development with the arrival of a pallet load of wild flower turf. Thank you to ‘Wildflower Turf ‘ who helped and advised me. I chose two different types… a landscape turf for the sunny area and a shade-tolerant variety for the strip near the blackthorn hedge. If you want to know more about them, click on the link below.
The pallet was very heavy and the delivery man only just managed to get it off the lorry in my narrow lane. Due to the bumpy nature of the lane and the weight of the turf, we only just managed to get it loaded to the base of my neighbour’s drive… this was some trek up to the top of my garden!
I heaved the turf, a roll at a time, onto the wheelbarrow, up the lane, up 22 steps and round a couple of corners, to get it to the newly prepared area… and it took me just about 2 hours to get it all up there. In fact, that was the hardest part! Once there, it was just a matter of rolling it out on to the grounds and arranging it. The turf had been lifted just the day before, so it was looking pretty good already… some of the red campion were already starting to flower, although they had obviously got a little squashed in the rolling process! You don’t have to be too worried about getting this to lay as evenly as a normal lawn as this will grow high and soon cover any lumps and bumps.
It does look a little like a rather weedy lawn, of course, when you first put it down…. but it is packed with loads of species of wild flower that should really take off over the next month or so! The species present in this main area of wildflower landscape turf are:
FloraAutumn Hawkbit (Scorzoneroides autumnalis)Betony (Stachys officinalis)Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)Bladder Campion (Silene vulgaris)Cats Ear (Hypochoeris radicata)Common Knapweed (Centaurea nigra)Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa)Common Vetch (Vicia sativa ssp. segetalis)Common Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris)Cowslip (Primula veris)Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis)Greater Hawkbit (Leontodon hispidus)Lady’s Bedstraw (Galium Verum)Meadow Buttercup (Ranunculus acris)Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense)Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)Musk Mallow (Malva moschata)Ox Eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)Perforate St Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum)Ragged Robbin (Lychnis flos-cuculi)Red Campion (Silene dioica)Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)Salad Burnet (Sanguisorba minor)Self-heal (Prunella vulgaris)Tufted Vetch (Vicia cracca)Wild Carrot (Daucus carota)Wild Marjoram (Origanum vulgare)Wild Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)White Campion (Silene latifolia)Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
GrassesCrested Dogstail (Cynosurus cristatus)Sheep’s Fescue (Festuca ovina)Slender Creeping Red Fescue (Festuca rubra ssp. littoralis)
I attempted a time-lapse of me laying it… I am very new to time-lapse and probably should have chosen the 10 second photos rather than the 30 second option, but it will give you an idea. I will be setting this up to document the growth over the Spring and Summer too!
I will also be planting a range of other nectar rich species and building and purchasing a range of bee habitats and hotels. This will be the subject of another blog post! There are so many exciting projects happening here… and I want to be outside., not at my PC!! Documenting it all is very important to me though. This is two-fold. Firstly, I love being able to look back and see the progression of a project as you do forget how much an area can change. I also love sharing what I do and receiving all sorts of comments and interactions with people all over the world! Much of this happens through my Twitter account and if you follow me on Twitter , I will be tweeting regular updates as I undertake different projects. These appear on the from page of my website as well.
I know I have been concentrating a lot on ‘Project B&B’, but there is loads of action on the nesting front too! I have been taken over by jackdaws!!!! They have taken up residence in ALL of my big tawny boxes, The Studio Box and my barn owl box. The barn owls have not been back since January, sadly, so I am happy to let the jackdaws take up residence instead. The Bridle path box pair are ready to lay, but they have built the twigs right up in front of the camera again! I am more hopeful for the Studio box as this pair seem to be just concentrating on soft materials and the image is great in here… it will be super if they raise a family. This clip shows them yesterday.
The great tit has completed her nest in my hub box and should start laying very soon……
As you can see, she has been going crazy with the dog fur in my nesting dispenser whisks!!
The blue tits are still thinking about my hand-made lane nest box, but I have pairs in the only 2 boxes I don’t have cams in! Typical!
These nests will be live streaming on my website if you pop in for a look!
With the sun streaming through the window and the Easter weekend beckoning, I am heading into the garden… so much to do!!